Paul George, Kawhi Leonard Shine for Clippers in 113-103 Win over Suns

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 9, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) is defended by Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The Los Angeles Clippers ended the Phoenix Suns' seven-game win streak with a 113-103 home victory on Thursday at Staples Center.

Paul George scored 11 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter and made 7-of-9 three-pointers along the way. His efforts helped turn a 83-81 Clippers lead after three quarters into a 10-point win.

Kawhi Leonard scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half to guide the 35-18 Clippers, who have won three straight and now sit third in the Western Conference.

Devin Booker's 24 points paced the Suns, who went just 6-of-24 from three-point range. Mikal Bridges added 20 points, and Deandre Ayton contributed an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.

The 36-15 Suns now sit 2.5 games behind the Utah Jazz for first in the West.

Notable Performances

Clippers F Paul George: 33 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals

Clippers F Kawhi Leonard: 27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists

Clippers G Rajon Rondo: 15 points, 9 assists

Clippers F Marcus Morris: 8 points, 6 rebounds

Suns SG Devin Booker: 24 points

Suns F Mikal Bridges: 20 points, 5 rebounds

Suns C Deandre Ayton: 18 points, 10 rebounds

Suns PG Chris Paul: 13 points, 7 rebounds

Clippers Go Full Circle in Win

George carried the Clips in the first half, and Leonard took care of business in the third quarter.

The second unit's scorching fourth-quarter start gave the Clips a 10-point lead, and George then took over once again to lead L.A. to victory.

It was all PG-13 in the first two quarters, as he finished with one-third of the Clippers' 54 first-half points.

George scored his 18th point with 5:32 remaining in the second quarter after nailing a three-pointer to put L.A. up 45-39. He dominated from beyond the arc, notably getting hot from the right corner:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

.@Yg_Trece goin' to work.<br><br>He's got 9 points (4-5 FG) in the first quarter. pic.twitter.com/CHOdFm7Z29

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Catch, shoot, cash.<br><br>πŸ“Ί @NBAonTNT | @Yg_Trece pic.twitter.com/SUGgL5AgX4

On the flip side, it was not a good first half for Leonard, who found himself with more turnovers (three) than points (two) late in the second quarter. He did nail a pair of threes to finish his first half, including this one to end the frame:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

.@kawhileonard from long range to end the first half. πŸ‘ŒπŸΎ pic.twitter.com/MPGJOsQFCG

It was all Leonard in the third quarter, though, as he scored 14 points, 12 of which came within a 4:38 span. He also put Ayton on a poster during that time frame:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

KAWHI DUNKS ALL OVER AYTON 🀯 pic.twitter.com/5ciWP2g3sY

Leonard's work allowed L.A. to go up two going into the fourth quarter.

From there, George and the Clippers' second unit helped put the game away, opening the final 12 minutes on a 10-2 run.

New Clipper point guard Rajon Rondo hit a three, and Patrick Patterson did as well. George added a pair of steals, and L.A. was on its way to a win.

But the Suns were given life after Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was assessed a flagrant foul on Paul and was ejected from the game.

Paul hit his flagrant free throws and then nailed a two-pointer on the ensuing possession to make the score 93-89 in L.A.'s favor.

However, it was George who took over down the stretch, as he scored eight points in a 10-0 run to salt the game away.

Nothing Goes Right for Phoenix in Poor 4th Quarter

The Suns had only one field goal through the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and three until the final minute, which served as garbage time.

Phoenix also committed four turnovers and scored just eight points in the first eight minutes.

The other end was disastrous, as the Clippers had no answers for George, Leonard or a Rondo-led second unit that excelled down the stretch. L.A. simply played great team basketball, perhaps best exemplified by the ball movement that led to this Leonard bucket:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Everybody gets a touch. pic.twitter.com/TwFbB5Xzha

George getting hot didn't help matters, either. He was untouchable at times, like when he drained a three-pointer with the 6'11" Ayton in his face:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

.@Yg_Trece feelin' it. πŸ”₯ pic.twitter.com/1aIO6Lqv62

It's an unideal performance for the Suns, who entered Thursday as winners of seven straight, especially against a Clippers team that it may face in the playoffs.

The Suns also lost a game in the standings to the first-place Jazz, who beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.

However, 12 poor minutes certainly don't signify that the sky is falling. Phoenix is having an exemplary season and could very well get hot and start a new winning streak when it takes the court again.

What's Next?

L.A. will stay home to face the Houston Rockets on Friday at 10 p.m. ET. The Suns will return home to host the Washington Wizards on Saturday at 10 p.m. in Phoenix Suns Arena.